Multidimensional observation technology to contribute to elucidation of life activities by utilizing high expertise in optical design

Multidimensional observation technology contributes toward observing cell-cell interactions


Image of 3-D cell observation

In the segment of life science, large number of researches are actively conducted with live cells to reveal roles and functions of proteins or nerves, and pursued for applications in drug discovery or new scientific fields.

Observation at the cellular level allows demonstrating actual functions and roles on genetic information, proteins, nerves or others. Thereby, accumulating knowledge through such researches is one of the key processes to shed light on life phenomena.

Cultured cells have been observed mostly in two-dimensional way. On contrary, a wide variety of cells in living animals or the human body are structured three-dimensionally to form tissues and organs. This implies that understanding the cell to cell interactions in a three-dimensional space is very crucial. The 3D observation technology enables acquiring image data of a 3D cultured-cell specimen being in common ecological environments of humans and animals, analyzing the 3D observation data to visualize cell interactions. With three-dimensional quantitative analysis, it becomes possible to identify all cells in the 3D space and then to analyze the data quantitatively with getting cell population size accurately out of the data.

In addition, the time-lapse imaging, an observation technique to capture a serial of images at regular time intervals, allows investigating time-dependent changes occurring in a cell or cells during the cultivation. Thus, it is very useful to get better understanding of cellular dynamic and activities, as well as cell-cell interactions.


Compared to conventional analyses performed in 2- or 2.5-dimension, 3-dimensional quantitative analysis can recognize the cells in three-dimensional space, which enable to accurately grasp the population for quantitative analysis.

Olympus's optical technology gives higher resolution at a deeper position

To observe a cell, several-tens micrometers in size, on the light microscope, a slight deterioration in light makes a huge impact on the image quality. This phenomenon becomes apparent in 3D imaging especially when observing a deep position of the three-dimensionally specimen, such as a tissue or organ model of the human body or animals. In principle, this happens because its observation depth and sample's characteristics effects on the light passing through it.

Along with optical technology being achieved over our long-established core competence, Olympus has been successful in developing the unique imaging technology that enables acquiring crisp and clear images even in the deep observation technique, by optically compensating the refractive index difference between the specimen and the oil immersion liquid where the light deterioration occurs.


Acquire crisp and clear images even in the deep observation by optically compensating the refractive index difference where the light deterioration occurs.

Clear cross-sectional images can be acquired by precisely controlling the amount of optical aberration correction according to the level of depth. A various type of three-dimensional image are reconstructed from these cross-sectional images. Implementing 3D imaging from the top to the deep bottom of target and time-lapse imaging together enable reconstructing complex structure as well as vital activities three-dimensionally within a live tissue or organ.


Time-lapse imaging enable reconstructing complex structure within a live tissue or organ.

Contributing to lowering the research and development risks, and optimizing the drug discovery process in the pharmaceutical market

Three-dimensional observation technology can be applied and utilized in a variety of fields in the future. Three-dimensionally cultured cells are attracting considerable attention as an experimental model in drug discovery. The combination of utilizing three-dimensional tissue-models and this observation technology makes it possible to analyze the effects or the toxicity for new drugs under the live tissue/cells-equivalent condition, and is expected to obtain highly accurate results prior to entering clinical trials. By utilizing the 3D cell analysis technology, Olympus will make a contribution to lowering the research and development risks, and optimizing the drug discovery process in the pharmaceutical market.

Olympus is striving to challenge unknowns such as investigations related to vital activities, finding causes of illnesses, and the development of drugs, as well as continuing to develop technologies that support researchers. Olympus contributes to making people’s lives safe, secure, and healthy by being one step ahead of the needs of the professionals who support society, in addition to providing innovative products and services beyond expectations to offer optimal solutions.

Typical products adopting this technology

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